The following is a release shared by the Jack Hoogendyk For Senate Campaign:
Regards, Jack Hoogendyk
Washington, D.C. – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) its September Porker of the Month for attempting to give earmarks contained in committee reports the force of law. The provision is included in S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.
Currently, earmarks listed in committee reports do not have the force of law; only those included in the statutory language have that status. Traditionally, members of Congress have included earmarks in committee reports knowing they are not the law, but have expected federal agencies to treat those spending items as if they had the force of law. President Bush issued an Executive Order on January 29, 2008 instructing government agencies not to fund any earmarks contained in report language, or based on any non-statutory source, such as phone calls from members of Congress.
This means that beginning with this fiscal year’s authorization and appropriation bills, agencies would be under no obligation to fund earmarks contained in committee or conference reports. In a brazen attempt to gut the executive order, Sen. Levin inserted a provision (Section 1002) into the defense reauthorization bill that would incorporate the earmarks listed in the committee report into the statute itself, making the earmarks “a requirement in law.” The earmarks would be “binding on agency heads in the same manner and to the same extent” as if they were written into the bill.
This provision continues a practice of using committee reports to hide earmarks and make them difficult to eliminate by offering amendments to authorization and appropriations bills. It certainly does not qualify as “reform” of the earmarking process. It would prevent open debate and votes on earmarks and reduce transparency and accountability. The “incorporation” language sets a precedent for other fiscal year 2009 legislation. If it is not removed from the bill, it would demonstrate that the Democratic leadership of Congress has no intent of ever getting earmarks under control.
Considering Chairman Levin’s history of requesting earmarks, his bill language is not surprising. In fiscal year 2008, Chairman Levin requested 255 earmarks for a total of $301.4 million, which made him the eleventh biggest porker in the Senate.
The earmarks in S. 3001 total $5.9 billion, and include the following: $6.5 million for expandable light air mobility shelters, $5 million for a hydrokinetic power, and $2 million for thin film amorphous solar arrays. While earmarks generally are a waste of tax dollars, they are most outrageous when included in a bill that is intended to defend the national security of the United States.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had planned to offer an amendment to strike Section 1002 and preserve the current status of earmarks in committee language so they will continue to be just that language, not the law.
For attempting to circumvent the January 29 Executive Order and make it easier to earmark the taxpayers’ money, CAGW names Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) its September 2008 Porker of the Month.
Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.
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